With fists clenched from the very creepy first frame of the movie, ‘Sinister’ delivers a frightening and horrific cinematic experience that will leave you shaken to the core. It’s a demented movie with a truly deranged killer at its nucleus. To say it’s disturbing or perturbing is right along with what director Scott Derrickson wants you to feel and boy does he achieve it. There are the obvious dumb decision-making by our lead character Ethan Hawke, but between the eery music, the cold and dark cinematography, and the well directed suspenseful pace, Sinister is the best horror movie of 2012.
An original story, the fictitious plot takes place ten years ago, when true crime writer Ellison Oswald (Ethan Hawke) made his reputation with a best-selling account of a notorious murder. Now, desperate to replicate the critical and financial success of his first book, he moves his loyal wife (Juliet Rylance), over-anxious son (Mark Hall D’Addario) and artistic daughter (Clare Foley) into a home where a suburban family was brutally executed and a child disappeared, hoping to find inspiration in the crime scene. Instead he discovers a mysterious box containing Super 8 footage of the murders—plus several more equally gruesome homicides. As he watches the carnage unfold on film, Ellison realizes he has stumbled onto evidence of a decades-long killing spree. But rather than going to the local authorities, he keeps the movies to himself, hoping to publish another acclaimed book based on the crimes. As Ellison starts to piece together the mind-bending truth about the crimes and the murderer, unseen intruders and inexplicable goings-on disrupt his once peaceful household. Slowly, he begins to realize that his ambition has placed him and his family in the path of an ancient and bloodthirsty adversary who has marked them as his next victims.
The reason this movie works compared to missed opportunities like ‘Intruders’ from Juan Carlos Fresnadillo or ‘House at the End of the Street,’ is because it doesn’t live in an inauthentic world. Director Scott Derrickson dropped us in a truly sinister universe that looks genuinely real. The pace is slow allowing us to peel of the layers of horror scene by scene, which only makes our experience more miserable, to the point of exhaustion. The murder sequences Derrickson displays are played out in long, extensive and excruciating fashion. It feels like we are actually watching real murders transpire in real-time (trust me, it isn’t a pleasant way to spend 110 minutes).
Ethan Hawke is magnificent in this movie and has been delivering some gripping performances as of late (Daybreakers, Brooklyn’s Finest). His character is obsessed with fame and down right disregards his family altogether. His motivation for success makes you dislike him as much as the chilling murderer. Oddly enough, there is no one to really root for in the film and that in itself gives off a claustrophobic feel.
If you’re expecting funny killings like the ones Freddy Krueger had us laughing at in ‘Nightmare on Elm Street,’ then you’re going to the wrong movie. ‘Sinister’ is for men, not boys. You have to bring your cojones to this one to sustain the endurance of tension-filled suffering.